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53 responses to “It's been a bit hot, just about everywhere”

  1. Tyro Rex

    border=0 in the img tag.

    I think the key quote from the Hansen paper is the last sentence in this bit taken from the PDF here – http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20100127_TemperatureFinal.pdf

    The past year, 2009, tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records (Figure 2a), in the GISS surface temperature analysis. The Southern Hemisphere set a record as the warmest year for that half of the world (Figure 2b).
    Global mean temperature was 0.57°C (1.0°F) warmer than the climatologic average (the mean for the 1951?1980 base period). Southern Hemisphere mean temperature was 0.49°C (0.88°F) warmer than the mean for the base period.
    The global record warm year was 2005, for the period with near?global instrumental measurements (since the late 1800s). Sometimes it is asserted that 1998 was the warmest year. The origin of this confusion is discussed below.
    There is a high degree of interannual (year?to?year) and decadal variability in both global and hemispheric temperatures. Underlying this variability, however, is a long?term warming trend that has become strong and persistent over the past three decades.

  2. Alister

    Ahem. If I may:

    Climategate! Communist conspiracy! Paid-for government scientists! Great big tax! The world hasn’t warmed since 19982005! Incorrectly placed measuring stations! Solar cycles! Natural variations! Carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant!

    Does that cover the denialist position accurately? If so, can they please take it as read that their … issues … have been raised, so as not to hijack an excellent piece of work by Brian?

  3. Paul Norton

    On a planetary level, NASA GISS have declared 2009 as the second warmest year on record in statistical tie with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007. The hottest year on the GISS record was 2005. What, 2005 the hottest and not 1998? Well that’s the way GISS see it. In this RealClimate post James Hansen gives a detailed explanation as to why. In brief, GISS estimate the areas where there is no station coverage by using the nearest stations. HadCRUT simply leave these areas out.

    In other words, the people who claim that global warming ceased in 1998 do so on the basis of the HadCRUT figures. Yet the people who rely on the HadCRUT figures to support (however spuriously) their claims of global cooling are the same people who claim that ClimateGate proves that HadCRUT has been fibbing all along.

  4. wilful

    And yet, as crikey observed yesterday, we (by which i mean sanity) are losing the political/media/spin battle, before our very eyes.

  5. Jenny

    The problem I have with many climate change charts such as these is the choice of showing changes from the mean rather than average temperatures. As such, you automatically get a dramatic visual from any consistent upward trend since the scale of the chart is naturally set that way. But at the same time you’ve lost the opportunity to put the variations in perspective and in my view it’s only with that perspective that the case can be truly compelling. Of course the difficulty in this case is that changes of .3 of a degree gives a fairly flat chart. But I believe it is only by being open and transparent about the strength of the case that climate change believers can win the hearts and minds of doubters and sceptics. Although I must confess I have little confidence in the efficacy of ‘spin’ in any political context, which probably makes me a naive idiot.

  6. Paul Norton

    Ho Chi Minh once famously said that it was better for the Vietnamese to smell Russian shit for a year than to eat Chinese shit for the rest of their lives. Part of the problem we have with the climate change debate in Australia is that Labor can’t be similarly clear-headed about the respective merits of smelling Green shit and eating Coalition shit.

  7. Tyro Rex

    In terms of the PR battle, I believe this point ought to be hammered home time and time again: “a long?term warming trend that has become strong and persistent over the past three decades” – I don’t think it gets any clearer than that.

  8. nobby

    get out the popcorn and chips folks this site is about to get hit with a shit storm.

  9. Roger Jones


    the reason for showing the change from mean is to compare the change from a standard period. This allows the comparison of different regions and temperatures taken at different levels. So it is possible to compare N and S hemisphere, or ocean and land, or surface and satellite for instance.

    Showing the actual temperature is arbitrary. For instance, if I showed Earth’s average surface air temperature in Farenheit, Celsius or Kelvin and put the zero on the horizontal axis for each one the graphs would be at roughly 58.3F, 14.6C and 287.8K. Which is the most honest? They all measure the same thing, but you would not see anything for the Kelvin graph and only bumps for the Celsius graph.

    However, if you know what a specific change means, then it becomes important. As a viewer, it is really important to know this, so as not to be taken in by a visually large or small change. If I see a graph, I want the numbers to fill the chart space to see the movement has been, then use my understanding of whether the actual changes matter or not.

    If you want to compare it to past changes – how far in the past do you want to go? Anomalies are a good way to see this. If temperatures have increased by 0.7C in the past 50 years does that matter much? Yes for corals (even though ocean waters have warmed less), no for most common forest trees in temperate regions.

    There’s no strictly honest way to show a graph but some ways are more honest than others (I have seen strictly dishonest graphs though – but they usually are accompanied by the manipulation of data away from an accepted scientific standard). In all cases it pays to know what the numbers mean.

  10. Brian

    Jenny, to add to what Roger said, historically over the past 50 million years or so the global temperature has mostly varied plus or minus 5 or 6C from present levels. So if you go to 5-6C minus you have the depths of an ice age and sea level 120 meters lower. If you go 5-6C plus you have no permanent ice anywhere, sea levels 70 meters or so higher and a much less habitable planet for humans.

    If you go plus 2C from pre-industrial we are in dangerous territory, probably earlier than that. If you go 2C negative I understand you will have the beginnings of the continental ice sheets forming. Given the implications I’m happy with what we normally get. My only beef is that typically the graph is not referenced to a base of pre-industrial but to a figure like 1961-1990 (Figure 1) that has some warming built in. But it’s a minor aggravation.

  11. Brian

    Tyro @ 1, thanks re the border. I’ll fiddle with it in the dead of night and see what happens.

  12. adrian

    I think Alister’s pre-emptive strike just about covered it, although he didn’t mention world government.
    Having listened to that Monckton creature on the ABC radio I actually don’t think their winning the PR battle as people like him are such obvious fruitcakes that they’ll convince nobody apart from Miranda Devine.
    However politically we appear to be well and truly stuffed.

  13. tssk

    I think the battle is lost. Even I believe global warmening is a hoax. (Actually I lie, I’m hoping that the skeptics are right. Otherwise we are toast.)

    However…what gives in Sydney. Apart from two scorching days it’s pretty much been the coolest January ever.

  14. Elise

    Adrian @12: “Having listened to that Monckton creature on the ABC radio I actually don’t think their winning the PR battle…”

    I hate to say it, but Monckton was put forward as the expert opinion on climate change by someone at the ASA (Australian Shareholders’ Association) meeting last week. Many/most nodded in agreement. He is winning the PR battle with a certain sector of the population, who are looking to have their ostrich position endorsed by anyone arguably in “higher authority”.

    Watching this thing play out, I have to admire the fortitude of Charles Darwin, taking on the establishment and the church, especially with a much less well-educated AND more devout public. He must have had the insane courage of a genius?

    Incidentally, the ASA meeting was largely populated by retirees, most well over 55 at a guess. Perhaps they have a psychological imperative towards denial?

    If they accept, then they would have to step out of a behavioural groove established over a lifetime. They may also suspect that they would have to take onboard a certain level of “guilt” for contributing to the problem. As such, they would be morally obliged to make good, at this late stage in their lives.

    Probably most would rather be reassured that it all isn’t true, even with very weak logic from Monckton?

  15. Brian

    Having listened to that Monckton creature on the ABC radio I actually don’t think their winning the PR battle as people like him are such obvious fruitcakes that they’ll convince nobody apart from Miranda Devine.

    Adrian, I wish, I wish.

    The transcript of his Counterpoint interview is now up. If you came to it cold, he sounds perfectly reasonable and plausible.

    The story is simple. You can only rely on temperature records since satellites in 1980. We had strong warming until 2001, since when there has been “rapid cooling”. The reason for warming was the clouds, stupid. So now we can calculate climate sensitivity, which is precisely 0.43C, not 3.3C as those dills from IPCC think.

    Less than half a degree Celsius is not a problem. That is a measured result, and the rule in science is that measurement always trumps models, and it’s the only measurement of its kind that we have so far.


  16. Razor

    I would be more interested in seeing the difference between expected natural variation and estimated human caused variation – because it is the human caused change that is a “problem” – not any natural warming.

  17. Elise

    Good point Razor. It would be interesting to see the graph with band for explainable natural variation, and then the growing band that is “unexplainable”.

    Incidentally, did the Flat Earth believers get converted by the weight of evidence, or did they just die out?

    Did the Creationists get converted by the weight of evidence, or did they just die out? WHAT??? They didn’t die out??? Yikes.

    What does that say for blind determination against all rational evidence?

  18. Brian

    Tssk @ 13, what gives in Sydney?

    Go here and click on the city, then go here and check the averages, until they retire the page in favour of this one.

    I’ve got Sydney tracking at 1.7C above average for January and Brisbane at 1.8C above. Seems plenty warm enough for me!

  19. Elise

    Brian @18, Perth must be getting up there too. This summer has been a shocker so far, and we are not done yet.

  20. Paul Norton

    Elise #14, one of the most consistent findings of social attitude surveys and opinion polls is that the over-55 demographic is much less likely to accept AGW than the younger age groups.

    If Morgan Polls are to be believed, the increase in climate change scepticism which was evident during 2008 and 2009 appears to have stalled from November 2009 through to January 2010 despite the ClimateGate beat-up. I have previously posted on the role of partisan cues from the Opposition in giving their supporters permission to become denialists.

  21. wbb

    Razor – warming is warming. However we can only reduce human warming. The question is why wouldn’t we want to reduce human warming?

  22. Doug

    WBB excellent question to which I have never seen an answer in blogospheric discussion by those who deny the reality of global warming.

  23. David Irving (no relation)

    You might want to fix that link to the Monckton “interview” on Counterpoint, Brian. (I had to waste about a dozen mouse-clicks to find it, and those things are scarce, you know.)

    Although the deniers are (mostly) in the same demographic as I am, they won’t die out soon enough to allow the endless noise to stop, unfortunately. We older folk enjoy rude good health, what with modern medicine and all.

  24. Elise

    Doug @22: ” I have never seen an answer in blogospheric discussion by those who deny the reality of global warming.”

    “The question is why wouldn’t we want to reduce human warming?”

    The answer Doug, is that they deny the reality, so they don’t need to reduce something that doesn’t exist.

    Oh, and if you are going to INSIST that it exists, well then it must have nothing to do with them.

    It is mother nature, or those damn foreigners cutting down forests (yes really, I know an otherwise smart engineering consultant who holds to this position), or those damn yanks in their tanks, or those damn orientals burning coal, or whatever… :(

    Anyway, it has nothing to do with them personally. And they don’t believe in it anyway. So there.

  25. Razor

    “why wouldn’t we want to reduce human warming?” – because the costs probably outweigh the benefits.

    I have sene little evidence that anyone has seriously analysed the positive impacts that a warming earth have (natural or manmade) despite the fact our civilisation has flourished in a warming climate.

  26. zoot

    Elise @19: according to Channel 9 News a couple of nights ago, Perth is experiencing its hottest summer on record – usual average maximum is 30, this year it’s 32. I presume they were quoting the Bureau of Meteorology.

  27. Elise

    Positive impacts, Razor @25?

    You mean like:

    – more Victorian bushfires (lives, infrastructure $$$, insurance premium $$$, expanded Fire & Rescue $$$),

    – dry Murray-Darling basin (Australia’s food bowl – agriculture $$$),

    – bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef (tourism $$$),

    – deadly box jellyfish extending to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast (tourism $$$),

    – coastal sea walls in most Australian capitals and other places (infrastructure $$$)

    – relocation of Sydney and Brisbane international airports due to inundation (infrastructure $$$)

    – Etc, …

    The list is very long already, with what we can easily recognise.

    Yep, the costs of changing our habits must surely outweigh the costs of do-nothing? As long as we don’t count them properly?

  28. Razor

    Elise – when I start seeing the prices of waterfront property dropping, then I’ll get worried.

  29. Fmark

    Razor, its probably great news for all the farmers in Siberia and Greenland. If you’re looking for property investments, I think you could do worse than Nuuk. http://www.viewr.com/properties.search.detail.html?vlsn=1072841&num=0

  30. FDB

    So that dodgy Viking propaganda might turn out to be true?

  31. Elise

    FDB @30, as they say: “you just have to wait long enough, and the market will meet you…”

    …regrettably they died before they could make their squillions from it.

    As the Vikings would say “Soren og”. Roughly translates as “what a bugger”. 😉

  32. Fine

    You might also want to look at some parts of Gippsland in Victoria, where Councils have denied people building permits for their waterfront land on the basis that it will be too flood prone to build.

  33. Elise

    Razor @28, I take it that you are into trend analysis rather than forward planning?

  34. wilful

    Fine, that gets a bit circular though – councils as part of the Victorian Coastal Strategy are planning for storm surges of at least 0.8m, and have to account for that in coastal areas, but that says nothing about the facts or otherwise of whether the sea levels will rise.

    by the way, on the issue of gippsland sea level rises, it only takes two metres at most before the sand barriers are breached and the gippsland lakes are changed irrevocably.

  35. Roger Jones


    mean sea level of 0.8 m by 2100. They already know the current surge patterns will be amplified by more than that (at least DSE does from the recent completion of detailed modelling), but this still needs to be factored into planning.

    0.8 m might be a bit low as a risk management threshold.

  36. wbb

    when I start seeing the prices of waterfront property dropping, then I’ll get worried

    Razor takes the promises of a real estate agents over the world’s scientists.

    While the market can deliver the cheapest cheeseburgers I don’t think it has yet fully mastered climate science.

  37. Elise

    Wbb @36, precisely! Worse yet, you have to factor in vested interests.

    Ever been looking to buy in an area which has been slated for a major highway redevelopment, right past your potential future backyard?

    Does the real estate agent tell you about it, and remind you that property prices are expected to decline when the highway goes through? Especially if you are from out of town and unlikely to know about it.

    Does he hell…!

    Why would he tell you diddly squat about something which might cause you to pay less or look elsewhere?

    Incidentally, myself and better half saw a very charming real estate woman turn into an aggressive harpy, just because we asked about height above sea level for a block of land in Busselton.

    “Light the blue touch paper, and stand well back!” as they used to say on the old fireworks rockets.

  38. Quoll

    Razor said – I would be more interested in seeing the difference between expected natural variation and estimated human caused variation – because it is the human caused change that is a “problem” – not any natural warming.

    Seems you can’t read or comprehend the fairly plain language used in this post

    In an earlier post Tamino at Open Mind used statistical analysis techniques to eliminate the ENSO factor along with the aerosol effect of major volcanic eruptions.

    See Figure 7.

    Without ENSO, volcanoes ie global warming with some well known natural forcing effects removed.

    Also 11-year running average removes sunspot cycle, another background correction for a known (if small) natural forcing. See figure 6.

    Hard to tell if all denialists are as purposefully stupid as it sometimes appears.

    You don’t need that data Razor, you need to open your eyes and learn how to comprehend plain language and simple graphical representation of data, it seems to me.

    Or provide evidence that there is a significant factor that influences climate that no-one else knows about and hasn’t already factored in to the numerous graphical analyses out there already.

  39. Brian

    Back @ 15 I did a link to Monckton’s interview at Counterpoint. It helps if you actually put the link in, I find. Here it is for your convenience.

    Roger, on an earlier thread we had a discussion about this graph used by Bob Carter to show that the effect of CO2 emissions was inconsequential. It also appears as prime evidence in Joanne Nova’s The Skeptics Handbook (page 8).

    In this comment you traced the graph to paper by David Archibald who ran a model created by David Archer with a seemingly arbitrary value for climate sensitivity of 0.4C.

    The claim in the Monckton interview is that a bloke called Pinker did some work on clouds and came up with the residual effect from CO2 being 0.43C for a doubling of CO2.

    The last substantive thing I’ve seen on clouds suggests we should be more worried, not less about the feedback effect of clouds.

  40. Elise

    Brian @15 and @39, thanks for the Monckton link.

    As you say: “If you came to it cold, he sounds perfectly reasonable and plausible.”

    Superficially he does. But he overstates his case continually. And he makes grossly simplifying assumptions to push his argument. He cherry picks the few bits of scientific evidence that support his case, together with spurious remarks redirecting attention to a false claim about Antarctica melt rates. He reminds you that he is a mathematician, so he is smart but “not one of them”.

    THEM!!! The scientists. The conspiracy. Along with the other conspiracy of politicians and “chattering classes” as he calls them. All out to hoodwink and control the little guys.

    The pile of paranoia about world governance is wrapped together with a bunch of chatty stuff indicating that he is part of the inner circle which is “in the know”. Is there a test for paranoia or schizophrenia, where people are convinced some nebulous “they” are out to control us all?

    I once worked with a mathematician colleague who had a similar conviction. Brilliant mathematician and high level programmer, but a total paranoid nutter when he got onto the topic of the nebulous mob of people that were out to control us. Also socially quite odd. Is this a peculiarity of mathematicians, based on my sample of two?

    At this rate, if people believe Monckton, then perhaps the only outcome will be for climate change to get SO BAD that people finally see it sitting on the end of their noses?

    Too late for forward planning.

    Especially too late if there is a tipping point.

  41. Jeremy


    Keep your charts and facts to yourselves. Tim and Andrew tell me the world isn’t warming, in fact it snows everywhere Al Gore goes. Also he is fat.

    I believe the argument is mine.

  42. tigtog

    @Elise (re Monckton)

    He reminds you that he is a mathematician, so he is smart but “not one of them”.

    But his BA degree is in classics. He also has a diploma in journalism. How is he actually “a mathematician” rather than just someone with maths as a hobby?

  43. su

    The last two self-professed experts Counterpoint has interviewed on AGW have prefaced their remarks with “Now, I’m not a scientist”. Lord “World Government” Monckton marks a new low point. They should rename the show “Crackpots”.

  44. Brian

    Elise, you could google “High functioning autism” and “Asperger syndrome” but I think (a) it’s not good to play amateur psychiatrist, and (b) the definitions don’t seem to fit Monckton.

    Here’s the Wikipedia entry for Monckton.

  45. Brian

    Razor @ 16, I’ve added an update at the end of the post showing graphs taken from IPCC AR4 Summary for Policy Makers (2007, p11) which show (a) temperature with solar and volcanic forcings only, (b) natural and anthropogenic forcings, and (c) actual observations.

    The only way of doing this is by using the dreaded models. I’m sure as time goes by we’ll get more sophisticated versions.

  46. billie

    I’m a time millionaire who has found that the Elders Weather site provides climate information for all parts of Australia where the Bureau of Meteorology takes weather observations.

    Elders is easier to navigate and from my casual observation most parts of south east Australia now recieve two thirds of their climatic average rainfall. Obviously the same information is in the Bureau of Meteorology site.
    Then of course there is the groovy Norwegian weather site which manipulates BOM observations


    Sailors in Melbourne like this site

    E N J O Y !

  47. Brian

    Further to my comment @ 39 Tim Lambert has a comment on Monckton’s concept of climate sensitivity here and here.

    In his Counterpoint interview he said:

    What I am here to do is to point out to you that we’re not just in the territory of uncertainty now, we now know that the effect of CO? in causing warming, though it is a real effect, is a very small and harmless and beneficial one.

    It seems that Monckton’s certainty about climate sensitivity being 0.43C may not be based on Pinker et al, 2005 but on a piece he did himself, wherein he doesn’t cite Pinker at all and actually wasn’t quite so certain. There he calculates climate sensitivity as about 0.58°K and says:

    it is very likely that in response to a doubling of pre-industrial carbon dioxide concentration TS will rise not by the 3.26°K suggested by the IPCC, but by <1°K.

    That for me still leaves some cognitive dissonance, but he’s a slippery character. The summary quote from the SMH via Deltoid is:

    The argument Lord Monckton mounted has been painstakingly picked apart by several eminent climate-change researchers, but it was an Australian computer scientist, Tim Lambert, who helped collate many of the flaws on his website.

    “A lot of the equations used to cover it up were right, but the argument was complete gibberish,” Mr Lambert said.

    The hypothesis took the lowest possible range of carbon dioxide’s known warming effect on climate, multiplied it by the lowest possible effect of the various feedbacks that amplify the warming effect, to give a figure well below that shown by any observation.

    One of the implications of the hypothesis was that, given what we know about climate, there could not have been ice ages in the past.

    “The hypothesis is completely inconsistent with the observations,” said Professor Matthew England, the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW.

    “In science, the world isn’t wrong so the calculations must be wrong.”

  48. Paul Norton

    Roger Jones #35:

    mean sea level of 0.8 m by 2100.

    WHich means that the road which I travelled along the Maroochy River yesterday will be nicely awash, as will the posh houses on the side of the road opposite the river.

  49. tssk

    This new article provides some interesting talking points that we need to address before global warming can be taken seriously.


  50. David Irving (no relation)

    Paul Sheehan is (as usual) either mistaken or lying in most of those assertions, tssk.

    (I don’t know whether or not Obama supports nuclear power, and I’d agree that the Copenhagen gabfest wasn’t a complete success, but as to the rest … )

  51. adrian

    tssk, if you actually believe a word of Sheehan’s rubbish I’ve got some magic water to sell you.
    Yet another reason to cancel our SMH subscription.

    Try educating yourself.

  52. Mercurius

    Paul Sheehan swallowed magic water and now expects to have credibility as a “skeptic”.

    Thanks for the lulz!

  53. Brian

    You could spend a lot of time chasing after Monckton.

    1. The pin-up species of global warming, the polar bear, is increasing in number, not decreasing.

    Not true as such, according to Wikipedia:

    Of the 19 recognized polar bear subpopulations, 8 are declining, 3 are stable, 1 is increasing, and 7 have insufficient data.

    Basically they are hard to count and there could be a false perception of increase because more are thought to be congregating around human settlements looking for food. The Bush administration resisted listing them as ‘endangered”, but had to do it in the long run. Wikipedia shows them as being “vulnerable”.